The Cardinals announced today that Tyler O’Niell will be hitting the 10-day disabled list with a groin injury. That’s bad news for him, but good news for Jose Adolis Garcia. The Cardinals purchased Garcia’s contract from the Memphis Redbirds so he can take O’Niell’s spot on the big league roster.
This should come as exciting news to Cards fans, as Garcia is one of the best outfield prospects in the Redbirds system. He has the potential to be a true five-tool player at the major league level and has been in his minor league career.
Jose Adolis Garcia
The Cardinals have a lot of good outfielders in their farm system, but few have the ceiling that Garcia does. He has showcased his many skills at the minor league level over the past couple seasons and even in spring training this year. At just 25-years old, Garcia is in just his second year of American professional baseball. He played in Double-A in 2017 and has been in Memphis for the entire 2018 season up until now.
In baseball, sprinting speed is a very important tool and can be the difference between an average player and a great player. Speed can turn groundouts into singles at the plate and, for an outfielder, can turn base hits into fly outs. Fortunately for the Cardinals, Garcia has no trouble legging out infield singles, stealing bases and running down fly balls.
Between Triple-A and Double-A last season, Jose stole 15 bases in 124 games. He also hit, 34 doubles and two triples, which has a lot to do with his power, but also his running. Fangraphs ranks his speed as a 60 out of 60 on their prospect report.
Initial scouting reports said that Garcia had gap to gap power, but didn’t necessarily herald him as a home run hitter. However, things have since changed.
Garcia does still have the gap to gap power. In addition to the 34 doubles and two triples he had last season, he’s hit 23 doubles and three triples in Memphis this season. He’s shown in his two seasons though, he has home run pop as well. After hitting 15 homers in 2017, Garcia already has 21 this year in just 98 games. His raw power is ranked on Fangraphs at a 50 out of 50.
With his combination of speed and power, he can hit anywhere in the lineup two through five. If Tyler O’Neill works out as planned and Marcell Ozuna figures things out, Garcia could be the Cardinals future two spot hitter.
Of his five tools, hitting for average is probably Garcia’s weakest and he doesn’t do it poorly. As a matter of fact, last season he hit .285 in Double-A and .301 in Triple-A, for a combined average of .290 for the entire season. So far in 2018 he’s hit .269, sacrificing a little average for more power, as his SLG has gone from .476 to .531 despite the drop in average. Fortunately for him, in today’s game, average is a lot less relevant than it once was. Regardless, he could become a .285 to .300 hitter at the big league level. He did hit .291 in spring training this year over 27 games.
Jose’s most impressive tool, even aside from the speed and power, is his arm strength. He has had one of the best outfield arms in all the minor leagues over the past two seasons, something the Cardinals have missed since the departure of Jason Heyward.
Last season, between both leagues, Garcia had 17 outfield assists. Fourteen of those assists came from his primary position, right field. This season, in 87 starts in the outfield, Garcia has thrown out seven baserunners. Opposing team’s are beginning to figure out that they shouldn’t run if the ball is hit in Garcia’s direction.
If average isn’t Garcia’s weakest tool, fielding is. He has the speed to make some really tough grabs in the outfield, but he still makes his share of mistakes.
Last season, Jose had a very solid year in the outfield, finishing the season with a .980 fielding percentage between center and right field. He only five errors in 982.2 innings. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been as good this season. Garcia has already made seven errors in 763 innings and has a fielding percentage of .966.
That said, with his speed, Jose can really improve his glove into a plus tool. His fielding needs to be one of his biggest points of emphasis to work on if he wants to be a true five-tool player. Fortunately, he has the talent and time to get there at just 25-years old.
Given where he already is in his development and his possession of skills that aren’t teachable, Garcia could potentially become one of the best outfielders in baseball. He has the tools to become a perennial All-Star and maybe even compete for an MVP eventually. It’s going to take some time, most likely, considering his youth, but Jose Adolis Garcia is a prospect all Cardinal fans should be excited about.
Featured image by Chris Lee — St. Louis Post Dispatch
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